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CHAP. commerce, a fertile soil, which Heaven had richly * favored with rivers and deep bays, united to perfect 1642. the scene of colonial felicity and contentment. Ever
intent on advancing the interests of his colony, Lord Baltimore invited the puritans of Massachusetts to emigrate to Maryland, offering them lands and privileges, and “free liberty of religion ;" but Gibbons, to whom he had forwarded a commission, was “so wholly tutored in the New-England discipline," that he would not advance the wishes of the Irish peer; and the people, who subsequently refused
; Jamaica and Ireland, were not now tempted to desert the bay of Massachusetts for the Chesapeake.
But secret dangers existed. The aborigines,
alarmed at the rapid increase of the Europeans, 1642, vexed at being frequently over-reached by the cu1644. pidity of traders, not yet entirely recovered from
the jealousies, which the malignant Clayborne had infused, commenced hostilities; for the Indians, ignorant of the remedy of redress, always plan retaliation. After a war of frontier aggressions, marked by no decisive events, peace was re-established on the usual terms of submission and promises of friendship, and rendered durable by the prudent legislation of the assembly and the firm humanity of the government. The pre-emption of the soil was reserved to Lord Baltimore;o kidnapping an Indian made a capital offence; and the sale of arms prohibited as a felony.: A regulation of intercourse with the natives
1 Winthrop's New-England, v. ii. p. 148, 149.
2 Bacon, 1649, c. iii. 3 Ibid, c. vi.
was the surest preventive of war; the wrongs of an CHAP. individual were ascribed to the nation; the injured savage, ignorant of peaceful justice, panted only for revenge; and thus the obscure villainy of some humble ruffian, whom the government would willingly punish for his outrages, might involve the colony in the horrors of savage warfare.
But the restless Clayborne, urged, perhaps, by the 1643, conviction of having been wronged, and still more 1646. by the hope of revenge, proved a far more dangerous enemy. Now that the civil war in England left nothing to be hoped from royal patronage, he declared for the popular party, and, with the assistance of one Ingle, who obtained sufficient notoriety to be proclaimed a traitor to the king,' he was able to pro- 1643.
July mote a rebellion. By the very nature of the proprietary frame of government, the lord paramount could derive physical strength and resources only from his own private fortunes, or from the willing attachment of his lieges. His power depended on a union with his people. In times of peace, this condition was eminently favorable to the progress of liberty; the royal governors were often able, were still more often disposed, to use oppressive and exacting measures; the deputies of the proprietaries were always compelled to struggle for the assertion of the interests of their employer; they could never become successful aggressors on the liberties of the people. Besides, the crown, always jealous of the immense powers which had been carelessly lavished on the
CHAP. proprietary, was usually willing to favor the people in
every reasonable effort to improve their condition, or 1643. limit the authority of the intermediate sovereign. At
present, when the commotions in England left every colony in America almost unheeded, and Virginia and New-England were pursuing a course of nearly independent legislation, the power of the proprietary was almost as feeble as that of the king. The other colonies took advantage of the period to secure and advance their liberties; in Maryland, the effect was
rather to encourage the insubordination of the rest1644. less; and Clay borne was able to excite an insurrec1645. tion. Early in 16'15, the rebels were triumphant;
unprepared for an attack, the governor was compelled 1646. to fly, and more than a year elapsed, before the asAug.
sistance of the well-disposed could enable him to resume his power and restore tranquillity. The insurgents distinguished the period of their dominion
by disorder and misrule, and most of the records 1647, were then lost or embezzled. Peace was confirmed 1649. by the wise clemency of the government; the of
fences of the rebellion were concealed by a general amnesty ;i and the province was rescued, though not without expense,' from the distresses and confusion, which had followed a short but vindictive and successful insurrection.
The controversy between the king and the parliaApril.
ment advanced; the overthrow of the monarchy seemed about to confer unlimited power in England
1 Bacon's Preface; Chalmers, p. 217, 218; Burk, v. ii. p. 112; McMahon, p. 202.
2 Bacon's Laws at Large, 1650, c. xxiv.
3 Ibid, 1649, c. ix.
IMPERFECT LAW FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
upon the embittered enemies of the Romish church; CHAP. and, as if with a foresight of impending danger, and an earnest desire to stay its approach, the Roman 1649. Catholics of Maryland, with the earnest concurrence of their governor and of the proprietary, determined to place upon their statute-book an act for the re- April
21. ligious freedom, which had ever been sacred on their soil. “ And whereas the enforcing of the conscience in matters of religion,” such was the sublime tenor of a part of the statute, “hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in those commonwealths where it has been practised, and for the more quiet and peaceable government of this province, and the better to preserve mutual love and amity among the inhabitants, no person within this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall be any ways troubled, molested, or discountenanced, for his or her religion, or in the free exercise thereof." Thus did the early star of religious freedom appear as the harbinger of day; though, as it first gleamed above the horizon, its light was still colored and obscured by the mists and exhalations of morning. The greatest of English poets, when he represents the ground teeming with living things at the word of the Creator, paints the moment, when the forms, so soon to be instinct with perfect life and beauty, are yet emerging from the inanimate earth, and when but
half appeared The tawny lion pawing to get free;
then springs as broke from bonds, And rampant shakes his brinded mane. So it was with the freedom of religion in the United
CHAP. States. The clause for liberty in Maryland extend
ed only to Christians; and was introduced by the 1649. proviso, “except as in this present act is before
declared and set forth." And it had already been declared, that “whatsoever person shall blaspheme God, that is, curse him, or shall deny our Savior Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, or shall deny the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the sayd three persons of the Trinity, or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use and utter any reproachful speeches, words, or language, concerning the Holy Trinity, or any of the sayd three persons thereof, shall be punished with death.” Nowhere in the United States is religious opinion now deemed a proper subject for penal enact
The only fit punishment for error is refutation. God needs no avenger in man.
The foolhardy levity of shallow infidelity proceeds from a morbid passion for notoriety, or the miserable malice that finds pleasure in giving annoyance. The laws of society should do no more than reprove the breach of its decorum. Blasphemy is the crime of despair. One hopeless sufferer commits suicide; another curses Divine Providence for the evil which is in the world, and of which he cannot solve the mystery. The best medicine for intemperate grief is compassion; the keenest rebuke for ribaldry, contempt.
But the design of the law of Maryland was undoubtedly to favor freedom of conscience; and some
1 N. B. These words are omit- copy” of the law is printed by ted in Bacon's abstract of the law. Langford, p. 27–32, and I follow See Bacon, 1649, c. i. “A true the authentic document.